Foodservice brands take a bite out of Valentine’s Day

February 13, 2015
4 min read

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and according to the National Restaurant Association, it is the second biggest day of the year for restaurants sales (after Mother’s Day). There are many ways for restaurants to participate in the holiday meeting the needs of singles, couples and groups ranging in age and income.

The most common way limited service restaurants participate is stand-alone, limited-time Valentine’s themed indulgences. This year, operators are expanding their horizons with new takes on the practice. Baskin-Robbins is using its existing Flavor of the Month promotion to create the tie-in so it can be served throughout the month. Krispy Kreme created an entire line of Valentine’s donuts which will increase the overall number sold since consumers will want to try all of the offerings. Del Frisco’s Grille, a full service concept, adopted the LTO (limited time only) dessert strategy to test an item before adding it to the permanent menu.

Full service restaurants, particularly fine dining steakhouse and seafood establishments, often use pre-fixe menus to draw couples in for dinner. They typically include multiple courses with the choice of wine pairings. This year is no exception with casual dining concepts like Bonefish Grill and fine dining restaurants like Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse offering special Valentine’s Day menus.

88% of Canadian consumers order takeout or delivery on a regular basis

However, this strategy doesn’t fit the personality and budgets of all consumers, leaving an opportunity for other types of restaurants to step in. Half Moon Bay Brewing Company is menuing beer and dessert pairings for drinkers looking for a sweet treat in a more casual setting. A great move to draw in the millennial crowds. As discussed in the Beer US 2015 report, about 50% of millennials want to drink beer with and around meals. Similarly, Starbucks created a menu of three coffee and dessert pairings al a café gourmand at a $5 price tag for a quick indulgence.

Consumers may also be looking for an event to attend during the holiday. To mix things up a bit, couples who are looking for a new experience can prepare their own meals at Le Cirque as part of its cooking classes. For the single ladies out there, Enoteca Sociale is hosting an all-female “Galentine’s Day” gala. And for singles on looking for a special someone, they can easily find a Starbucks location for a first date via the “Meet at Starbucks” feature.

According to Mintel’s Foodservice Trends Canada 2015 report, 88% of Canadian consumers order takeout or delivery on a regular basis. To meet the needs of the loyal homebody consumer base, restaurants are creating foodservice and retail products. Papa Murphy’s brought back its take-and-bake HeartBaker Pizza, catering to families that value the convenience of eating at home. Baskin-Robbins has dessert covered with ice cream cakes for couples and groups that can also double as a gift if need be. And if you’ve forgotten to purchase a present for your sweetheart, Teavana is packaging up its First Blush Tea as a V-day gift complete with a matching mug so consumers can get their tea fixes and get their shopping done at the same time.

The bottom line is that all restaurants have the opportunity to cash in on Valentine’s Day. They need only to pinpoint an underserved day-part, meal-part, price point, or consumer group and target them accordingly. Operators can create limited time specials for the day or month as well as bring back a special item or reposition existing items by adding an ingredient or pairing them together.

Bethany’s work as a Foodservice Analyst is primarily focused on developing monthly foodservice-specific reports by utilizing custom consumer studies, market research, and menu information. Her most recent topics include Technology in Restaurants and LSR: Ethnic Concepts.

Bethany Wall
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